Tallow is the hard and fatty substance made from rendered animal fat, which has been used for centuries for cooking and in candle and soap making. Tallow is rendered (melted down) from basically any meat other than pork, but beef has traditionally been the meat most often used. Modern day folks who utilize the old-fashioned homesteading staple often do so because tallow is regarded as being extremely resistant to the heat required during the cooking process.
Tallow is comprised of 50 percent saturated fat, 42 percent monounsaturated fat, and just four percent polyunsaturated fat. You can quickly purchase quality grass-fed tallow from online retailers such as U.S. Wellness Meats, Eat Wild, Eat Local Grown, and Grass Fed Traditions – but the price tag can take away from the tight budgets of many preppers. Tallow is surprisingly easy to render and learning how to complete the process is a valuable survival skill. One day soon, going to the local big box store or corner grocery to buy cooking oil, soap, candles, and gun cleaner, may no longer be an option.
The fat rendered from pork is known as lard. Tallow makers often use the fat from beef cattle, sheep, deer, poultry, and even bear to garner inexpensive stockpiles of the handy little ingredient. Grass-fed beef or free-range poultry is typically preferred when making tallow because the fat contains more helpful nutrients and is not compromised by hormones or other non-natural ingredients often used in commercial feed.
Animal fat found in tallow contains vitamins niaicin, A, D, K, and E – all of which are very good for our skin. The fat also contains conjugated linoleic acid which is believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties which may also help fight cancer. Palmitoleic, also a nutrient found in tallow, is highly regarded for its antimicrobial properties.
- Leather conditioner – If the power grid goes down, horses will once again be the primary mode of transportation. Keeping tack and leather boots in good shape can easily be accomplished by rubbing them out with tallow.
- Cooking – Tallow is extremely popular for use as a cooking oil for frying food because of its high smoke point – 420 degrees.
- Baking – The rendered animal fat is also excellent for use in baking breads, cakes, and other pastries.
- Gun Lubricating – You can use tallow in place of gun grease to keep rifles and handguns fully lubricated and ready for dependable use.
- Skin care – Animal fat was once commonly used to treat cracked and dry skin, and as an ingredient in lotions. During a long-term disaster we will likely be working outside in both the dry heat and bitter winter cold. Rubbing tallow on the hands and chapped cheeks will help prevent further cracking of the skin and possible infection from growing in the open wounds.
- Soap Making – Keep the cost of soap making down by using tallow. Tallow soap generally produces a rich and creamy lather which helps to moisturize the skin. Ingredients often used with tallow to make soap include lye, olive oil, goats milk, coconut oil, and essential oils for both their herbal benefits and fragrance.
- Lubricate – Tallow can also be used to help keep mechanical parts from becoming “stuck” and to help attach tight or rusty parts back in place.
- Candle Making – Tallow candles are perhaps the easiest and quickest to make. Simply melt the animal fat, allow it to cool for a few minutes (but not harden) and pour it into an aluminum can or mason jar while holding the wick in place. To keep the wick in place while the tallow hardens, lay a pencil on either side and firmly tape the pencils together until the wick is standing in the center on its own. Although it will burn more quickly than a standard wick, a strip of cotton fabric can serve as a wick as well.
- Motor Oil – The beef animal fat can also be used to make a bio-degradable motor oil to help keep machinery functioning properly.
- Deer Tallow – German athletes reportedly favor deer tallow to treat blisters and minor skin issues.
- Fuel – Gas stations will run out of fuel very quickly after the SHTF. Use tallow to make a form of biodiesel in compatible engines to help keep your vehicles moving when sliding your credit card to pay at the pump is no longer an option.
- Flux – Tallow can replaced commercially purchased flux and be used for soldering purposes.
How To Render Tallow
- Purchase tallow from a grocery store, online, or from the local butcher if you do not have access to harvesting your own from livestock.
- Cut the animal fat into small chunks. The tallow can also be placed into a meat grinder to save time and effort.
- Place the ground fat into a cast iron skillet or other cooking container. While the fat will cook down, do not pile the tallow too high in the skillet.
- Heat the fat to about 200 to 250 degrees. The animal fat does not create a pleasant aroma, so opening a window is a really great idea!
- Stir the tallow to prevent sticking before it melts to a more liquid state. If smoke appears, turn down the heat to prevent burning.
- Once the animal fat turns a dark brown shade, similar to the color of cooking bacon, remove the cast iron skillet from the heat and allow the fat to cool. If the tallow hits room temperature and begins to gel, reheat the fat briefly.
- Pour the tallow in Mason jars through a strainer – a fine strainer which is preferably made of mesh. Adding cheese cloth to the strainer will help prevent small pieces from escaping.
- Store the tallow in a refrigerator, freezer, or other cool place if utilizing electricity is no longer an option. Oxidation will likely cause the rendered animal fat to become rancid.